George Lucas Educational Foundation
Education Trends

Find Your Purpose as an Educator

February 2, 2015

Do you feel like you have been put through the ringer these last few years?

I have talked to teachers from across the country a lot lately and here’s what I have heard:

“I’m tired of feeling like a political punching bag.”

“Each new initiative is just like the old one, just with different labels. A thesis is now a claim. A supporting detail is now text-based evidence. What difference does it make what we call it, it only matters if students can do it.”

“Good teaching does not change, so why are they trying to repackage and dress up the same thing every 5 years?”

“They tell us not to teach to the test, yet it seems the only thing that matters to them is how my students do on test.”

It is understandable to feel the negativity in the the atmosphere weighing you do. It gets to us all at times, I imagine. But we must find ways to rise about this moment and find greater principles that can withstand the turbulence -- ones that can sustain us through difficult times.

Here are three ways to find your purpose and develop a deeper love for what you do:

1. Develop a mantra to repeat each day

I started saying three things aloud a month ago. It is the most reassuring thing I do each day. Before students enter my classroom and I have the space and all its quietness to myself in the early hours of the morning, I say:

“I am here to inspire students.

I am here to be a great father and husband.

I am here to help others succeed.”

Repeating it each day, has enabled me to look past the short-term and feel that I am being guided by something more powerful than an educational fad. I have principles that can navigate me the roughest of seas.

2. Spread the Love

Sean McComb, the 2014 National Teacher of the Year, has created a means for us all to “be a voice for the hope, promise and possibilities that come alive in the classroom.” He, and other state teachers of the year, have created ‪#‎LoveTeaching, a platform to celebrate and unite what we love about the profession. It aims to “share why we teach, why we choose to stay in schools and live out this vocation and give a glimpse of the beautiful spectrum of possibilities that teaching offers.”

Take the time to share your story and write about what you love. While work may be what we do for a paycheck, a calling is what we do when the love outweighs the money. Share your calling.

3. Find That Someone

Good mentors teach us what they know, sharing their skills and expertise, but great ones offer a vision of who we can be and give us the confidence to get there. They enable us to see past the short-term frustrations and feelings of despair. They listen to what we say and articulate the deeper truths of what we are unable to verbalize.

They are not easy to find but they do exist. Your great mentor might reside in your school, your district, or perhaps somewhere in the digital landscape. It takes some time because you have to gauge how well that person listens, has compassion, and displays the wisdom to offer a vision of what you can be, but once you find that person, you will have a deeper love for what you do and your career will have greater purpose.

This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.

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